Even as the light has long dimmed on the dotcom boom, and the feverish partying is now just a faint hangover, the technology crowd is massing once more.
But this time, instead of clamouring at the bar at a packed-out First Tuesday event, Britain’s e-business people are hitting the web sites before hitting the bars.
This time it’s not about WANs, Wi-Fi or wireless networking, but real live networking, enhanced and aided by web sites built specially from the ground up to connect people.
The vanguard of this revival is a site that emerged from Silicon Valley. In October 2000, during the dotcom meltdown, San Francisco-based entrepreneur Adrian Scott decided to create a site that could help his friends maintain their network of contacts between career changes. Members of Ryze.org can post information about themselves, a list of their friends, and leave private messages for each other. It turned out there were side benefits.
"At an average party, you spend all that time going through the first introductions, but on Ryze you’ve got a profile that gets you through that awkward stage," says Scott. "It’s like a *censored*tail party where everyone is wearing a resume."
Last December, Ryze’s popularity escalated and it started to introduce extra subscription-based services. In February, Europeans started posting themselves on to the site. There are now around 14,000 members, and Scott says the site is breaking even. There are Ryze drinks parties in most major US cities, and a London event is on the cards.
Of course, sites where people "network" are not new. Similar sites such as PlanetAll and Sixdegrees.com emerged and faded in the late 1990s. PlanetAll was bought by Amazon and Sixdegrees.com was sold in 1999 – before the crash – for $125 million.
Here in the UK, the combination of a burgeoning interest in blogging and the buzz around Ryze has been joined by the re-launch of the four-and-a-half-year-old Ecademy.com, a free, monthly networking group for e-business people that features regular speakers.
Inspired by his wife Penny,